We are really enjoying our new dojo space and home at Contact Kicks. Summer is fast upon us, and you can feel it in the dojo. More people are vacationing and away. But the member count is still high and we are still pushing it. Wednesday nights are usually focused on conditioning, pad work and fight drills. Such was the case last night.
At the end of class, while in seiza, Sensei Fogarasi talked to us about the importance of safety and raised a very important point that I had not thought of.
As many of you might know, despite a history of hosting professional martial arts bouts, including several UFC contests, Amateur Martial Arts bouts presently are illegal in Canada. This is due to the outdated language of section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which makes it an offence to engage in a “prize fight” except in limited circumstances.
The irony, as Sensei pointed out, is that Hockey violence and fighting is not only common practice, it is practically allowed and cheered for. Despite the many injuries and barbaric nature of it. You hear and read about it every year in Canada.
Notable Hockey Night In Canada broadcaster Don Cherry has been quoted as saying on the subject of hockey fighting, “It’s a tough sport, fans like it, I still like it.”
Fighting in Hockey is so popular there is even a page dedicated to the stats! http://www.hockeyfights.com/stats/
So, what does this have to do with Kyokushin? As Sensei says, in Kyokushin, you practice not only to fight, but to protect yourself as well. The number of serious injuries is extremely low, in comparison to hockey fights.
Like other combat sports, participants have a respect for the training, and each other. Hockey fights are extremely violent, with zero respect, whereas Kyokushin is approached with respect and honour.
Bill S-209 was passed, in regards to section 83 of the Criminal Code, which allowed professional boxing and MMA events, such as the UFC, to be sanctioned. However, Bill S-209 does not in and of itself make MMA or combat sports legal across Canada.
It is still illegal to hold an amateur “full contact” event in Ontario. But if you still want to see an amateur bare knuckle full contact event, you have to go no further then your local hockey arena. The hypocrisy is mind blowing.
Much of the problem updating the laws has laid with the very controversial Ken Hayashi, Ontario Athletic Commissioner, who has been steadfast on upholding these archaic laws. Many people (in Kyopkushin, Muay Thai, etc.) are hoping things might change with the rumour that Hayashi will be leaving his post and be replaced by former Toronto police detective and current Ministry of Consumer affairs investigator John Biggerstaff.
Many hopes are high in the Ontario Combat Sports circles that Mr. Biggerstaff will do something to change things.
For now, while light contact karate styles, like Shotokan, can have tournaments in Ontario, Kyokushin practitioners have to go elsewhere. This makes it difficult for parents of children in Kyokushin as well. While the kids do not do full-contact, and they use sparring safety equipment, the tournaments themselves remain illegal, so parents are forced to either try a different style of karate, or must leave the province or country to compete. This is also a big loss for Ontario in regards to tourism dollars.
In the mean time, we will continue building our dojo, growing Kyokushin in Ontario, bringing awareness to the issue, and most of all… training!
For more information on this, and Combat Sports Law in general, I encourage you to check out http://combatsportslaw.com/